Statue of hero soldier unveiled in October

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A bronze memorial sculpture commemorating Lurgan VC winner William McFadzean will be unveiled in October, it has been revealed.

It will be the culmination of a mammoth fundraising effort to raise £25,000 in funding for the statue

William Frederick McFadzean.

William Frederick McFadzean.

The bust of Private McFadzean will be erected at High Street in the town, close to his birthplace.

Praising the generosity of the people of Lurgan and the wider area, Secretary of the William McFadzean Victoria Cross (WMVC) Memorial Group Lexi Davidson said: “We set this group up last year with a target of £25,000. I think there has been a tremendous job done to come so far in 12 months.

“It demonstrates how strongly people feel about remembering the selfless sacrifice which William made and now it will never be forgotten.”

They are also hoping to involve local schools in the unveiling.

Planning permission for the statue, to be erected on a granite plinth, was granted by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

The WMVC Memorial Society commissioned Scottish artist Helen Runciman to create the tribute to “a true soldier of Ulster” who gave his life in the Battle of the Somme.

A hundred limited edition miniature busts, which are available for pre-order, have almost sold out (just 25 remain to be sold). The eight inch busts are on sale for £120.

Mr Davidson said previously unseen pictures of Private McFadzean had been located and were being used to help produce the sculpture.

“The precision involved means it’s a slow process, but it’s going into the foundry next month.”

The sculpture will be unveiled on October 9 on the street where William was born on the same day in 1895, the family later moved to the Cregagh area of Belfast.

He was born at High Street, although there is a memorial plaque at the town hall in Union Street.

On July 1, 1916 a box of grenades which were being distributed among the men fell resulting in some of the safety pins becoming detached.

Private McFadzean threw himself on top of the bombs before they exploded and was killed instantly but he saved the lives of all those around him.

A citation, printed in the London Gazette on September 9 1916, stated that “he well knew his danger, being himself a bomber, but without a moment’s hesitation he gave his life for his comrades”.

His was the first of four VCs awarded to the 36th Ulster Division on the first day of the battle.